Are you ready to become the Master Gardener in Gartenbau? Gartenbau is an abstract strategy board game inviting you to design your garden and earn prestige points by creating beautiful flower arrangements. Through tile drafting and placement, players acquire seeds, grow plants and arrange flowers to win the game.
Gardening and “environment-friendly” board games seem to have bloomed in recent years. I lost count of the many gardening games I have in my collection. Yet, aside from the common theme, they all bring something new to the tabletop! Some are relaxing, others are thrilling. Gartenbau is a thought-provoking strategy game. In Gartenbau, players must strategically collect and manage their resources, acquire seeds, grow plants, and create beautiful flower arrangements. The goal is to earn as many prestige points as possible.
Gartenbau is a game played by two to four players, recommended for ages 14 or older. However, I found it to be an excellent game for kids. Games can take 30-60 minutes.
You and your fellow players take on the role of gardeners, seeking to wield your green thumb to grow a well-balanced, mature garden before the growing season ends.
Over the course of the game, you’ll be planting different types of seeds and growing a variety of plants to fill out your garden, which is arranged as a grid. In addition, if you are able to meet the complex growing condition of your flowers, you’ll earn prestige points for your horticultural achievements.
Gartenbau is a layering tile placement game where each player builds their own tableau (or garden grid). On the first layer, you will place seed tiles; on the second layer, you will play your plant tiles, which must be placed on top of specific seeds; finally, on the top layer, you will play your flower arrangements composed of two plants from the second level. You will score points, or prestige points, for flower arrangements. Gartenbau is also a resource management game where you collect water and sun tokens used to buy plant tiles. Seedling tiles are taken from a rondel in the center of the table and do not require resources to be taken.
On their turn, players must choose and perform one of the following three options: Move one place on the rondel and take and place seedling tiles or resources from the Seedling Market, which is a double track rondel with one track for resources and one track for seedling tiles; move one place on the rondel and draft and place plant tiles from the Plant Market; where you pay using your available resources, and as the game progresses the tiles will cost higher; or, place one of your flower tiles from your hand into your garden.
Finally, each player has two special tokens: The Flower Pot Token allows you to move your player to any place on the roundel; the Watering Can Token allows you to move one uncovered seedling tile from one location in your garden to another location.
The player who earns the most prestige at the end of the game is crowned the Master Gardener.
Gartenbau is an abstract strategy game incorporating mechanisms such as tile drafting, tile placement, layering, pattern building, resource management, tableau building, and rondel. It feels like a cross between games like Carcassone, Village Rails, Akropolis, and others, but with a unique twist to the tile placement genre. The distinctive composition of mechanics is technically impressive. Gartenbau is unique, immersive, engaging, complex, and tactical. It can be challenging even for the most experienced gamers.
The setup and gameplay are simple enough for newbies but sufficiently intricate for expert gamers to enjoy. Players must use resources like sun and water tokens and tools with special powers to design their gardens from scratch. To win the game, players must manage their resources wisely, and it is also crucial to plan and decide ahead which plants are needed and wisely acquire their required seeds. Each round counts to determine who is in the lead. And remember, the game’s primary goal is to create the best flower arrangements to earn the most prestige points.
In terms of production values, the illustrations of Gartenbau are stunning, the components are really high quality, and the whole experience is truly immersive. The game mechanics are well-crafted; each move directly affects how successful a garden can be at the end of the game. Furthermore, Gartenbau offers diverse objectives so each player can make their garden unique.
Overall, Gartenbau is an impressive strategy game with plenty of depth that appeals to casual gamers and seasoned veterans alike. The complexity leans towards the moderate or medium end of the scale. However, with its beautiful visuals and engaging gameplay, I believe that Gartenbau will become very popular.
Similarly to eurogames, you interact indirectly with other players using “take that” tactics rather than directly engaging in competitive maneuvers to affect your opponents’ progress. Indeed, the main way to obstruct the opponent’s progress is by figuring out their plans and taking the tiles they need. However, while you may compromise your opponent’s strategy, you may lose focus on your own. You will have to strike the right balance because you want to create the optimal garden to achieve your goals and highest score.
The game’s randomness is minimal. This is a game that rewards strategy as there are multiple scoring opportunities, like the best tile placement games. Each player may choose a different playing style.
Gartenbau is an engaging, fun, and immersive strategy game with stunning visuals that appeal to both casual gamers and seasoned veterans. It is moderately complex and can be too challenging for board game newbies though. Players must use their resources wisely, plant strategically, and design the best garden possible, a harmonious ecosystem, where they create beautiful flower arrangements on their path to becoming the Master Gardener!
Final Score: 4.5 Stars – Get your friends ready for some challenging yet rewarding gameplay in Gartenbau, one of the top games of 2022, and a highly recommended purchase!
• Engaging, fun, and immersive strategy game.
• Medium complexity, easy to learn, but with deep strategy.
• Luck plays a minor role in the game.
• It strikes the right balance between several compelling game mechanics to deliver something novel and unique.
• It can be a challenging game for non-gamers.
• There has been a bloom of games portraying the same theme in recent years.